My some-time commutermostly casual bike is a testament to fugly.
For night time, a commuter bike is about visibility when battling for road space with 2-ton people stompers, not about the look. There's no point in gracing a GQ cover which posthumously cites, He's gone, but at least his man-machine was class A. Reflective surfaces are plastered all over the bike frame, forks, fenders, spokes, flashing lights front and back, and a couple video cameras to record the possible shuffling off of the mortal coil. The bike is meant to look like a hideous last-minute entry float in a Xmas parade-you're going to avoid driving near the damn thing because it looks alien and dangerous at night. This is very effective, it's very rare that someone will pass uncomfortably close.
During the day, not so much. A lot more effort is expended trying to avoid becoming a squashed bug because bicyclist are considered vermin by some. With that being said...
My first ride with the unit was impressive, especially on busy highways where the speed limit is 45 and beyond. In California, there is a requirement to pass bicyclist at a minimum of three feet. That is normally the case, but there are those of the Rebel Alliance who ignore this rule, and get uncomfortably close (hence, the videos to be used for future possible prosecutions).
With the radar unit, these incidents have dropped precipitously. Not only distance-wise, but a reduction in pass-by speed. There is an LED at the top of the display unit that changes color (greenamberred). Green means no vehicles, yellow means vehicles, but red means a high closing rate. When I see red, invariably it drops to amber as the vehicles get closer, because of the increasing flashing rate, and as a result, the drivers slow down. Even it they don't, the drivers give a wider berth passing by.
After about four hours on the road, it was obvious this unit really does grab the attention of drivers. Since then, the stress level has dropped considerably on the busier roads.
There is a downside to this. If these units become popular, the drivers will start eventually ignoring the flashing and resume old habits. There are speed limit signs that flash when you go over the limit. When the first came out, they were quite effective, nowadays, folks generally ignore them. I fear the same for these devices.
I give this unit a five for overall value since my subjective reason suggests that it increases the chance of coming home without injurydead. And I also gave it a five for value, but it was on sale at the time (otherwise a four).
This unit is like a cable modem-you'll never go back to dial up again. If you commute, buy this-you need every annoying photon this thing emits to knoc
It's hard to hear cars coming up from behind especially in cold weather when wearing head warmers. This alerts me to traffic on my 6 and alerts them as they approach me. Hasn't failed me yet, love it. Works just fine with my Edge 510.
The best thing about this light is that it aids in your awareness of your surroundings. I used to rely on my hearing and a quick turn of the head to keep an eye on vehicles coming up behind me, but I've been out on country roads in the past few years and I've been surprised by big diesel trucks that have snuck up on me! Either those trucks are getting quieter or I'm losing my hearing, but in the right wind conditions the sound of approaching vehicles can be completely drowned out. The radar feature of this system gives me a pleasant reassurance that I find helps me relax a bit more out on the road.
Here's what I like
1. Gives me a heads up! (HUGE DEAL!! Far more effective than a tiny mirror, those are stupid, don't compare them to this light!)
2. If you're the driver approaching from behind it will appear to be communicating with you. Flashing more intensely with higher frequency as distance to bike decreases. Note however, if the driver matches your speed the head unit will give you a green light, and the light the driver sees will return to steady, but as they approach to pass it will flash again. I personally think this is courteous to drivers.
3. Mounting system is clean, flush and sturdy, even down wash-boarded gravel roads!
4. It won't flash at other cyclists or parked cars- (no need to change settings if you meet up for a group ride.)
Rather than Cons, I'll call this the list of things that could improve
1. The seat tube mount should allow for adjusting the angle to get it nice and plumb. (not a big deal given the design of the LED layout) A seat rail mount would be most ideal given its horizontal orientation it's nice to have it up high.
2. It would be great if future models, or updates would allow you to turn on an audible alarm. A single set of 3 beeps when the occasional car gets behind me out on rural roads would save me from glancing down frequently. Of course, those of us using it in the city would have to be able to disable it.
3. It can't see around corners or give me X-ray vision! Okay, okay this more a matter of physics and not Garmin's problem! But please, be aware that as you sweep around tight corners you'll effectively lose the early heads up the radar provides because it is limited to line of sight. You still have to keep your head about you and be a good defensive rider!
All that said, I wish every cyclist could have one of these! I'm excited for the coming trend of technology based safety innovations for cyclists!
Oh yes, quick comparison, I have the L&M Vis 180 rear light. I'm confident that light is the brightest rear light on the market. The Garmin is plenty bright, day or night, but I'll be keeping my Vis 180 for those over zealous evening rides! I don't want to go without
I was hit from behind by a car last year, and while I know this device won't prevent that fully, I get a much better sense of what is happening behind me while riding around traffic. Some of my friends have suggested get a mirror but those don't work so well for me. The light paired easily with my Garmin 1000.